Horror Panegyric

Yes, I had to look it up too… Panegyric, a eulogy, panegyrise, to praise highly.

Horror Panegyric by Keith Seward, published by Savoy Books. 125pp.

This short volume is an introduction to the three “Lord Horror” novels Lord Horror (1989), Motherfuckers, the Auschwitz of Oz (1996) and Baptised in the Blood of Millions (2000), also published by Savoy. An essay by Seward introduces the books, and is followed by lengthy excerpts from “Lord Horror” and “Motherfuckers”

Of the three, Lord Horror is mainly known for its un-availability, the result of a vigorous campaign of persecution by the Manchester police (the few extant copies are worth several hundred pounds each), while Motherfuckers was available via Amazon for a time. As you may surmise from the titles, they are not everybody’s cup of tea. The author, David Britton, chose to savage anti-Semitism by means of a brutal and gory satire that was too much like its object of attack for some to see the difference. Mimicking the homophobic rants of the then Manchester chief of police was not a prudent move either. Britton was sent to Strangeways jail for four months.

In the books “Lord Horror” is a fantastic character inspired by William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw, of wartime infamy. The principals of the second book are Meng and Ecker, twins subjected to “scientific” experiments by Josef Mengele. They’re not nice – Ecker is rational but violent and Meng is a mutant with a huge cock and tits. There’s also a talking Volkswagen car called Herbie Schopenhauer. Auschwitz meets Oz.
Seward hails Motherfuckers as a masterpiece, and argues his case well. The reader can make up his (or her) own mind on reading the excerpts that follow at the end of “Horror Panegyric”. I used to find the three novels just too nasty to read, but after reading the panegyric and the excerpts I am inclined more to think that Seward has a point. He suggests that, just as it was said that it was impossible to write poetry after Auschwitz, a response to Auschwitz is to write in a deliberately barbaric way. The provocativeness of the books is perhaps a measure of their power and importance. Despite their extreme content, the books clearly have not provoked any rioting in the streets (only among police, judges and censors).
In any case, if you are interested in strong, cutting-edge writing, or radical literature, you owe it to yourself to obtain first the Panegyric and then Motherfuckers, and check it out for yourself.

Keith Seward lives in New York.